BP has finally approved some new tools in its cleanup effort. Thirty-two oil-separating machines developed by Kevin Costner’s research company are moving into the spill zone.
The Ocean Therapy Solutions machines are giant centrifuges that suck up
a combination of oil and water and then spin it around at high speeds. This separates the crude from the salt water. The water is spit back out and the oil is collected in a holding tank so it doesn’t get back into the ocean. After going through a high speed filter, the water is supposedly 99% free of contaminants.
The largest machines can separate 200 gallons of oil from the water per minute. That’s about 210,000 gallons of oil per day.
The most recent estimates suggest that between 20,000 and 40,000 barrels of oil per day are leaking out of the Deepwater Horizon well. A barrel of oil is 42 gallons. So, if we take the highest estimates, that’s about 1,680,000 gallons of oil per day.
That would take eight of the OTC machines to clean up the new oil each day, not even counting the petroleum that’s already in the water.
Beyond the oil dangers, researchers now say methane gas, escaping from the well in unprecedented quantities, could create massive dead zones in the Gulf, suffocating marine life.